Top 10 Exercises for Building a Wide Back

man with big and wide back muscles I did something really stupid once training back.

What I did was superset back with quads.  It was insane.  I nearly collapsed.  I’m in good shape and have been doing supersets for years, but when I paired quads and back in a superset it was nuts.

I kicked off the routine with squats followed by wide grip pull ups.  It got worse from there.  Needless to say I re-wrote that workout pretty quickly.

Wide, Explosive Lats Rock!

Wide, explosive lats round out the V-shape physique beautifully.  Unfortunately many lifters, especially people new to lifting don’t focus on back exercises as much as they should.

Admittedly, working back is hard.  It’s a big muscle that demands enormous effort.  Most of the top back exercises are heavy compound lifts that not only work back but hit other parts of the body as well.

If you’re struggling getting a big back, here’s a list of what I consider to be the ten best exercises for a wide back and lats.

I chose these exercises for their effectiveness but also wanted to include a good variety so that in combination they target all parts of your back.

1.  Wide Grip Pull Ups

Add weight once you’re cranking out 15 rep sets.


2. Bent Over Barbell Rows (Underhand Grip)

I like the underhand grip because I can really squeeze my back muscles during the up-motion.

3. Close Grip Cable Rows

I love cable rows. I get such a powerful squeeze on my back.

4. Dumbbell Pullovers

With DB pullovers you need to focus on working out your back. It’s easy to cheat. I know many people do them for chest, but I find they work my back more.

5. HammerStrength (or Cybex) Pull Downs

I might take some flack for adding this exercise, but I love the HammerStrength/Cybex equipment. It’s quasi free weight equipment but works out intended muscles very well.

6. T-Bar Row

7. 1-Arm Dumbbell Row

While these aren’t great for supersets because they take longer having to do one side at a time, it’s a very powerful move for back. Do not cheat – it’s easy to twist your torso to pull the weight. Keep your back flat and focus on your back.

8. Close Grip Pull Ups

These are super powerful and I like them because they’re hard to cheat on … all you can do is pull yourself up.

9. Normal Grip Bent Over Rows

By normal grip I’m referring to non-reverse grip and hands about shoulder-width apart.

10. 2-Arm DB Rows on Incline Bench

You don’t want to do all 10 back exercises in one workout. Choose 3 to 5 exercises.

Sample Back Workout

  • Wide Grip Pull Ups: 4 Sets
  • Close Grip Cable Pull Downs: 4 Sets
  • Reverse Grip Bent Over Rows: 4 Sets

Additional Back weightlifting Tips:

1. Experiment with different rep tempos – try the 1 second up, 3 seconds on the release portion of the move.

2. Add drop sets on the last set for each exercise. I like 2 to 3 rounds of drop sets.

3. Focus on form over weight. It’s easy to cheat with back exercises. Be sure you work your back muscles and not your biceps and shoulders.

4. When putting a back routine together be sure you choose exercises that hit all parts of your back. Don’t just do wide-grip moves exclusively.

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